The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is reporting 99 new cases and eight additional deaths today. Five of the deaths were from people in long-term care or retirement homes and three were people in the community. Of the new cases reported, 11 are from close contact with a confirmed case, 11 are outbreak related, one is in the community, and 76 are under investigation. There are now 2,278 active cases, bringing the total number to 11,546 cases in our region, with 9,268 cases resolved, 110 people in the hospital with 16 in the ICU, and 288 deaths. Across the province today there were 2,662 cases and 87 deaths. On Thursday there were 2,632 cases, on Wednesday there were 2,655 cases, and on Tuesday there were 1,913 cases.
The local health unit has submitted its vaccination rollout plan to the province which outlines the health unit’s plan locally to vaccinate our region against COVID-19. The CEO of the health unit, Theresa Marentette, has said that committees representing every sector will be created to keep vulnerable people at the front of the line and primary health care providers will identify patients deemed a priority. It was also announced that a website is being developed to keep the public informed and will help address questions and concerns that the public may have. You can read more here.
The COVID-19 Science Table report indicates that the provincial government’s new target date of February 15 to vaccinate people in long-term care instead of January 30 could mean the difference between life and death for about 115 seniors. The federal government says they have spoken with Pfizer and have been assured that hundreds of thousands of vaccines will be delivered the week of February 15 and that Canada will receive all 4 million doses before March 31. We are also expecting half a million Moderna doses in February. In the meantime, we are calling on the government to take immediate action to save seniors and to send the Canadian Armed Forces into hard-hit homes, ramp up testing, hire 10,000 more staff and put infection prevention and control experts into every home.
The Greater Essex County District School Board has extended the deadline for elementary school students to change learning models. Any changes must be submitted by January 26 at 4:00pm and will have to be used for the remainder of the school year. In-class learning is set to resume on February 10 and the changeover will take effect on February 16. You can find more information and the Request for Change Survey here.
The local health unit says they have taken 513 calls regarding complaints about COVID-19 compliance, have handed out 65 notices of violation, and have laid 23 charges. The health unit is asking residents to call 211 if they have a complaint, and if questions or complaints require further assistance from a public health professional, 211 will transfer those calls to the health unit. On that note, the Minister of Labour announced that a COVID-19 enforcement blitz will be happening in Windsor-Essex this weekend to ensure that essential workplaces that remain open are following the rules under the current lockdown. Fines under the Reopening Ontario Act range from $750 to $10,000 for individuals and $1,000 to $500,000 for businesses. Both can result in up to one year imprisonment.
The Unemployed Help Centre says they are seeing a growing demand for food banks in our region. The UHC provides hampers of food, made up of non-perishable items and produce to provide a week’s worth of food and are available either at the UHC office or at Adie Knox in the west end of the city. If you or someone you know is in need, the UHC can be reached at 519-944-5922.
Our caucus has called on the Ontario government to extend deferral on OSAP debt repayments during the pandemic. Last year, the government paused OSAP student debt payments between March 30 and September 30, but the pandemic is not over, and students are still struggling with the loss of jobs and income as well as the highest student debt levels in the country.
The local health unit declared another COVID-19 outbreak at Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthy Aging and Mobility centre today. The outbreak was declared on 2S in the Dr. Y. Emara Centre and is linked to the centre’s current outbreak on 3N that was declared last Sunday. The hospital says 2 patients have tested positive at this time.
The federal government announced that funding has been extended until the end of March for one of the COVID-19 Isolation and Recovery Centres in Windsor-Essex. The 117-bed recovery centre for agricultural farm workers is operated in coordination with the local health unit, the Canadian Red Cross, Emergency Management Services, and the City of Windsor, and the money is used to support people in isolation.
Organizers of the annual Princess Ball, which supports Cystic Fibrosis Canada, has been postponed. The event was scheduled for January 24 but will now happen later this year.
Please follow all public health guidelines to stop the spread of the virus, including staying home wearing a face mask when out in public for an essential trip, continuing to practice social distancing of two metres from other people (even if you are wearing a mask), and washing your hands often.